Putting #Deflategate To The Test The NFL is investigating whether the New England Patriots under-inflated footballs against the Indianapolis Colts. Players for Occidental College's football squad help NPR test out how much air pressure affects throwing and catching.

Putting #Deflategate To The Test

Putting #Deflategate To The Test

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The NFL is investigating whether the New England Patriots under-inflated footballs against the Indianapolis Colts. Players for Occidental College's football squad help NPR test out how much air pressure affects throwing and catching.


New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick held a surprise press conference yesterday, not to talk about next week's Super Bowl, but about, well, you know, deflated footballs.


BILL BELICHICK: As far as I know and everything that I can do, we did everything as right as we could do it.

RATH: In case you've been living under a rock, 11 out of the 12 balls used by the Patriots in their AFC championship win last week were allegedly underinflated by about 2 pounds per square inch. We wanted to know just how much that changes how the football feels. And we sent our producer Tom Dreisbach to find out.

TOM DREISBACH, BYLINE: First, let me introduce you to my expert witnesses.

DEVIN BULLOCK: How are you doing? I'm Devin Bullock. I play receiver for Occidental College.

DREISBACH: Number seven - five touchdowns last season.

BRYAN SCOTT: My name is Bryan Scott. I play quarterback for Occidental College.

DREISBACH: He's number 18 - threw 17 touchdowns last season. Occidental is a Division 3, NCAA football team. And I met Devin and Bryan at their home field to do a completely unscientific experiment. I brought a pump, a pressure gauge and an official-size NFL football. First, we just set a baseline. I pumped the ball to the regulation pressure between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. And to me that felt very pumped up, but to the players...

Feels normal.

SCOTT: Yeah. It feel - I mean, it feels like a game ball that we would use.

BULLOCK: It feels regular.

DREISBACH: Just be sure, they threw the ball around a couple times.

SCOTT: Ready, set.

DREISBACH: No real surprises there. Now to the real test.

Let's try deflating it.

The Patriots footballs were allegedly inflated to about 10.5 pounds per square inch.

BULLOCK: And now you're good.

DREISBACH: The gauge reads 10.5.

So first, just your initial thoughts. How does it feel?

SCOTT: It feels a lot easier to grip for sure, probably easier to throw it farther. What do you think, Dev?

BULLOCK: I guess as a receiver I don't notice that much, but when you do, like, kind of press on it pretty hard, you can feel it go in a little more.

DREISBACH: Do you think you could eyeball a difference?

SCOTT: No. Definitely not.

DREISBACH: Then Bryan and Devin take the ball out for a test drive.

SCOTT: Red 19, red 19, ready, set, hut.

DREISBACH: They complete a couple passes about 25 yards out then try mixing it up.

SCOTT: We've been doing two-handed catches, so we're - I'm going to have Devin do a fade route right now and he's going to try and catch it one-handed. Red 13, red 13, ready, set, hut.

DREISBACH: The ball goes up. Number seven, Devin Bullock, reaches out with his left hand and completion.

SCOTT: Yeah, first try he caught it one-handed, so (laughter).

DREISBACH: Hear, let me just ask you, how does it feel different when you're catching?

BULLOCK: It wasn't that much of a difference, I would say, but when it gets into your hands, I felt like it was easier to just, like, kind of corral it, grab it.

DREISBACH: Over all, their verdict - sure, under-inflating the ball helps a little. If we had been in rainy New England instead of sunny LA, deflating might even give a real advantage. But Devin Bullock says it probably didn't make a big difference when the Patriots stomped the Colts last week.

BULLOCK: Maybe we'd have something to talk about if they only won by a field goal. It was just kind of the game was 45 to seven, so it was, like - it definitely wasn't the only reason the Patriots won.

DREISBACH: In other words, two PSI does not equal 38 points. That does it for my quick experiment. Meanwhile, the NFL's investigation is ongoing. Tom Dreisbach, NPR News.

SCOTT: Red 25, red 25, ready, set, hut.

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